Soooo….apparently, there is, like, a big game tonight.
Despite the fact that for most of my life I cannot claim to have been the most….how do I say it….dedicated sports fan (disclaimer: in college, I was more excited about selecting my garnet and gold ensemble than standing in the sizzling bleachers surrounded by a bunch of sweaty dip-packing frat boys), there is indeed a match-up this evening which presents me with a moral dilemma.
To root for my ‘home team,’ The Patriots, the team with That One Quarterback who alone makes watching the game totally riveting, or to root for the other team, The Ravens, the team for whom my dear husband bleeds purple and black?
Though I won’t be gaining any Cape Cod friends by admitting this (and perhaps more likely acquiring a few enemies), I must admit that come 4:30 Mountain Standard Time I will be in my child-sized-medium Flacco jersey (refer to aforementioned detail to game day outfits) rooting on the underdogs, my team The Ravens, and it’s not just because I know that James will read this.
Though every year I haven’t exactly been as interested in football as I am in the (crispy, hot) wings and (craft) beer, I have to say that I got a little teary eyed a few weeks ago as I watched the lifeblood of The Ravens, Ray Lewis, play his last ever game on home turf with the team that he so embodies.
He burst out through the gates and rubbed his chest with the turf that he had led his team to so many victories on, and as he broke out into his infamous dance, I was moved thinking about what it must feel like to know that you might never partake in the very thing that you are so revered for ever again.
Through equal parts good luck and perhaps even better talent, The Ravens squeaked victoriously through last weeks round with my now hometown Broncos (thanks to one last minute touchdown), and though that left many sad Coloradoans in it’s wake, it also created one fired-up and happy husband.
But back to those wings and beer – my first true football loves. (Sorry, Ray Ray.) I made these sandwiches back in October when the AFC and NFC Championships were still way off in NeverNeverLand, but I highly recommend scooting off to the market to pick up the few things needed to make them for tonight’s game. If you’re already committed to a seat at the bar, they’d make a great lunch for Superbowl at home, or really anytime that you’re in the mood for something criminally delicious.
I say they are ‘a tiny bit’ healthier, because there is still a knob of butter in the wing sauce and a bit of mayo in the dressing; I, for one, have no desire to eat a bastardized ‘healthy’ version of something I love so much. But the amount of butter in these babies pales in comparison to what you’d find at your favorite pub, and swapping in Greek yogurt for the sour cream in the dressing adds a wallop of protein while shaving off unneeded fat and calories. Plus, I skipped the whole deep-fry thing all together, and instead dusted the pounded chicken breasts in a tiny bit of flour before shallow frying them in just a bit of oil, to ensure that the piquant sauce would cling to every nook and cranny. I splurged on some delicious roquefort that I stirred into the dressing, and with bright pops of green onion and a few shaves of lemon zest, it made the most perfect accompaniment to the dripping spicy sauce. The freshest lettuce and tomato you can find, along with a squishy whole wheat bun, round out the sandwich, and a crunchy dill pickle and green salad are certainly better choices than the sweet potato fries that I’d normally order.
Better Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches (that are just a tiny bit healthy!)
You can use any hot sauce you like, but for me, you can’t call it Buffalo chicken unless it’s made with Frank’s. Amen.
Also, these aren’t worth eating unless the buns are really squishy – if the whole wheat kind are cardboardy (as they so often can be), go for a potato bun or white bun that is nice and soft. Trust me, you’ll thank me.
2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded only slightly so that they are of even thickness
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)
2 buns of your choice (see note above)
fresh lettuce (go for something heartier than Iceburg)
fresh tomato slices
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
blue cheese dressing
3-4 oz crumbled blue cheese (I used Roquefort)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (2% fat or higher)
1/2 cup mayo
4 green onions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
First, make the dressing to allow time for the flavors to meld (you can do this up to a couple of days ahead of time). Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl, whisking/mashing them with a fork well to combine, and store in the fridge until you are ready to use. That’s it! This also makes a great veggie dip, so make extra if you’re into that sort of thing.
When you are ready to make the sandwiches, have the buns ready (I like to lightly toast them) and the lettuce and tomato cut into sandwich-ready slices. Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat, and add enough oil to the skillet to coat the bottom well (2-3 Tbsp). While the skillet heats, season your chicken breasts well on both sides with salt and pepper. Dunk the chicken breasts first in the egg, and then dredge them in the flour, shaking any excess off. Fry the chicken breasts in the oil until they are golden brown on both sides and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side.
While the chicken cooks, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the hot sauce. Whisk well until it is combined, then take off the heat.
When the chicken breasts are cooked through, remove them from the heat. Pour the hotsauce/butter mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl, and, working one at a time, place the still-hot breasts into the sauce, tossing them to coat. Make sure that the sauce is clinging to every part of each filet. Assemble the sandwiches by placing the saucy breasts onto the buns, and topping each with lots of the homemade blue cheese dressing, lettuce leaves, and slices of fresh tomato. Enjoy immediately, and thank me later.